The topic of motivation excites me a good deal more than procedures, rules, and other necessary-but-dry aspects of running a classroom. Here are three motivational strategies for any classroom:
- Make sure the students (and you) understand the relevance of the subject matter and of each lesson. So often I have found myself going into class for yet another lesson. I am weary. The students are weary. No one in the classroom seems to know or care why we are studying what we are studying. We only know that we need to get it done. This is a terrible situation and I hope I never repeat it. As a starting point for solving this malady, the teacher must know the purpose and relevance of the current lesson. If the teacher questions the value of the work, of course the student will not be excited to learn it!
- Capture student interest. Pay attention to what the students find relevant and interesting. Many times I have wrongly assumed that their opinions were irrelevant my teaching. This is a dreadful mistake. If I am not concerned about what the students think, how can I expect them to be interested in what I have to say? If I do not connect with the student, the student will likely fail to connect with what I’m teaching them.
- Arouse students’ interest by capitalizing on their loves. Every child is drawn toward suspense, discovery, curiosity, exploration, and imagination. Teaching is a delightful exercise because we get to connect with such delightful human beings who still have these wonderful qualities, qualities that predispose students toward new discoveries and more teaching moments!
For further reading, I recommend Classroom Management: Creating a successful k-12 learning community (6th ed.), by Paul Burden